Category Archives: Quiz

Green Eggs On Nettle

Green eggs on stinging nettle leaves (photo by Kate St.John)
Green eggs on stinging nettle leaves (photo by Kate St.John)

Today, a quiz.

I found green eggs on stinging nettle on August 9 at Wolf Creek Narrows, Butler County, PA.

Are they eggs or something else?

And who laid them?

Post a comment with your answer.

I’ll reveal their identity later today.

THE ANSWER:  29 August, 3:15pm
This was a tricky quiz because the structures really do look like eggs. I thought they were butterfly eggs but they are too smooth. The butterflies most likely to lay eggs on nettle have very wrinkled eggs.  For instance, click here to see the eggs of the small tortoiseshell butterfly.

Mary Ann Pike correctly identified the green “eggs” as nettle galls of (probably) Dasineura investita.  The galls are the plant’s defenses against the larvae inside them.  The larvae are from midges so tiny that I can’t find photographs of the adult insects though these three photos may give you an idea.

Caterpillars of the Sordid Hypena moth (Hypena sordidula) eat these galls.  Click here to see it.

(photo by Kate St. John)

Be A Bird Sleuth

Rufous-tailed jacamar, male (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Quiz: What bird is this? (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

On a birding trip in Costa Rica:

Back in 2011 I made a bird identification quiz that featured this bird because it looks cool and I’d never seen it before.

Today I’m in Costa Rica within this bird’s home range.

Follow the link below to figure out what bird this is.

Quiz: Be A Bird Sleuth


(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original)

(*) p.s. As I mentioned on Jan 27, I wrote this article before I left home so I couldn’t know if I’d see this bird.  I’ll let you know when I get back.

Day 7: Las Cruces Field Station

Quiz: What Bird?

What bird is flying over the iceberg in Franz Josef Land? (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
What bird is flying here in Franz Josef Land? (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This Featured picture from Wikimedia Commons was taken in Franz Josef Land, a Russian archipelago of 191 islands in the Arctic Ocean.

It’s a beautiful photo of an iceberg and there’s a bird in it.

Quiz:  What bird?

Here are some hints:

So what bird is flying by this iceberg in Russia?  I think I know.

Leave a comment with your answer.


(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

Four-Letter Bird Codes: What and How

Five 4-letter bird codes. What birds do these represent?
Five 4-letter bird codes. What birds do these represent?

GWFG and SNGO at Pymatuning, Crawford county

That’s a bird report headline from PABIRDS, February 7, 2016.  If you’re not familiar with 4-letter bird codes it’s a meaningless message and you wouldn’t know these may be Life Birds.  (Fortunately the names are inside the report.)

Few birds have short names so abbreviations come in handy when you’re writing down a lot of them … as we’re doing today for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  The U.S. Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) ran into this problem early on and made a standardized list of 4-letter codes for birds in North America based on their complete English names.  The coding scheme works roughly like this.

  • 4 words in name: First letter of each word.  Greater white-fronted goose = GWFG
  • 3 words in name:  First letter of first 2 words + 2 letters of the last word. Great horned owl = GHOW, Red-eyed vireo = REVI.
    EXCEPT if the last two words are hyphenated.  I always get this wrong! It’s the reverse of the rule above and there aren’t many names that fit this pattern.  Rule is: First 2 letters of first word + first letters of last 2 words:

    • Eastern screech-owl = EASO
    • Eastern wood-pewee = EAWP
  • 2 words: First 2 letters of each word.  Snow goose = SNGO, American robin = AMRO
  • 1 word: First 4 letters. Sora = SORA, Brambling = BRAM
  • Collisions: Sometimes two bird names result in the same code as in BTGW for both the Black-throated green warbler and Black-throated gray warbler.  In this case, look up the code using the links below.

Here’s the complete alphabetic list developed by The Institute for Bird Populations.  For a better explanation of the coding scheme, see this page on the Carolina Bird Club website.

Now that you know how to decipher the codes, here’s a quiz.

What five birds are named in the image above?

Leave a comment with your answer.


(illustration by Kate St. John)

A Starburst Of …

What is this?
What is this?

Today, a quiz!  What is this?


  • Six of us found these unusual starbursts sticking out of the ground at Wolf Creek Narrows, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania on October 14.
  • The starburst measures 1.25 inches across.
  • The stalk stands a foot tall.
  • There are no leaves on the stalk nor at the base of the stalk.
  • Each tip ends in a shiny black bead. (Some of the beads fell off my specimen.)
  • A Google image search on this photo results in pictures of jewelry.  🙂

Bonus Question:  What U.S. city is named for this plant?

Leave a comment with your answer.  After you’ve had a chance to vote I’ll post the answer in the Comments.


(photo by Kate St. John)

Miniature Mesa

Miniature mesa A (photo by Kate St. John)

Here’s a Monday quiz to exercise your brain.

I found this miniature mesa in Schenley Park last week.

Do you know what it is?

Which side is up?

Miniature mesa B (photo by Kate St. John)

Here’s a more complex formation.

A unch of mini-mesas in winter (photo by Kate St. John)

So … what they are?

Leave a comment with your answer.


UPDATE:  I’ve posted the answer in the Comments.

(photos by Kate St. John)

What’s In A Name?

James Bond (ornithologist) and screenshot from James Bond 007 Dr.No (images from Wikimedia Commons)

Question:  What do these two people have in common?  On the left, a real person. On the right, the symbol for a fictional one.

Answer:  They have the same name and there’s a bird connection.

Birders, did you know…?

The person on the left is ornithologist James Bond.  Born in Philadelphia in 1900 he was the curator of ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences and the preeminent authority on birds of the Caribbean.  His definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies, was first published in 1936.  Updated over the years, it was the only field guide devoted to Caribbean birds until 1998.  Click here to read more about the real James Bond.

Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond 007 books, was an avid birder and writer who spent every January and February writing novels at his villa in Jamaica.  Of course he had a copy of James Bond’s field guide to help him identify local birds.  When he needed a name for his 007 hero he chose James Bond because it was “brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon, and yet very masculine – just what I needed.”

Fleming received James Bonds’ permission to use his name and they later met in person.  Fleming also connected birds and Bond by placing many bird references in Dr. No  including a guano (bird poop) mine and a bird sanctuary for roseate spoonbills.  Click here to read about the 007 connection.

How did I find this out?  When I returned from my Caribbean trip last month, Tony Bledsoe told me about the two James Bonds.


Thanks to Wikipedia, the source of this information. Note the copyright information below:
* photo of James Bond the ornithologist in 1974 from Wikimedia Commons. Click here to see the original.
* Screenshot from the Dr. No trailer, James Bond 007, from Wikimedia Commons. Click here to see the original and its rights information